How To Finally Break Up With a Co-Writer

[Editors Note: This was written by Dan Reifsnyder and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog. Late in 2016, TuneCore Blog contributing writer Mason Hoberg also covered fractured relationships among artists in his article titled, “How To Kick Out a Band Member”.]

 

Sometimes, it’s time to pull the plug on a relationship. It happens all the time, and co-writing is no different. Even the best co-writing relationships can go sour (think Lennon and McCartney, for instance), and it’s wise to think about an exit strategy if things are looking bleak.

Breaking up can be difficult for obvious reasons, whether it’s with a co-writer or significant other, and you may notice some parallels between the two. Sharing your creative side with someone and pouring energy into a project can certainly be a bonding experience. Not to mention the fact that co-writers often know quite a bit about each other, especially if they’ve been at it a long time.

Regardless of the stage of your writing relationship, here are three ways you can let your partner down in the most professional and kind way possible.

1. Be direct

This is by far the most difficult option, but I find it’s usually the best. Letting someone know – kindly, but firmly – where you stand often clears the air very quickly and begets the least amount of negativity in the long term.

If you’re unsure of what to say, try some variation of the following: “I’m sorry, I just don’t feel we’re working well together right now – our artistic sensibilities are just too different.” The other person may ask questions about your decision – in fact, that’s likely.

Your level of honesty depends on your relationship. If you’re too honest, it could piss off him or her. At the same time, if there’s a particular reason (maybe he or she needs to work on listening to his or her co-writers or brush up on his or her lyrical chops), that person deserve the chance to fix it for the future. Your (now former) partner may even appreciate it, albeit in hindsight.

Keeping someone as a friend after being direct can often prove difficult, but I suggest trying to leave a door open. You never know where either of you will find yourselves in the future, and you may change your mind about working with him or her down the road.

Offer to hang out in a non-writing setting sometime. Send him or her a text or an email every once in awhile or reach out on social media. You can never have too many friends in this industry, and it’s always smart to do your best to avoid creating grudges.

2. Avoid writing together

I’ve seen this done a lot to varying effect. If you’re not comfortable with the direct approach, this option may be more diplomatic. A word of warning, though: It can take longer and has the potential to create bad feelings if you don’t do it right.

The simplest way to go about this is to be busy. It can help if you really are swamped with work or working on other projects. Say you can’t write at the moment, but you’ll revisit in a few months. This serves two purposes: First, it lets everything cool off. You’re not writing together as often and maybe talking less. It can soften the blow for the eventual “breakup.”

Second, it can give you time and space to gather your thoughts about writing together. Perhaps you’re just getting burned out. If so, you can return to the project in a few weeks or months since you haven’t officially burned any bridges.

If you still decide you two don’t make the best writing team, continue to be non-committal about making time to get together. Most people either get the idea and drop it or forget about it entirely. (After all, your partner probably has a busy life, too.) If he or she presses, be honest and give an honest answer. And with the benefit of time away, he or she just may come to agree that it’s the best thing.

A word of warning: Don’t lie. In other words, don’t tell the other person you’re not feeling very creative when it’s obvious you’re writing every day. If anything rings untrue – or worse, is an outright falsehood – it will be taken personally and you’ll look pretty scummy… the very thing you want to avoid.

3. Ghost

This is, by far, my least favorite option  because it leaves the most room for hurt feelings and burned bridges. Sometimes, though, it’s the only option – especially if your co-writer isn’t getting the hint or has put you in an uncomfortable, awkward, or dangerous situation (unwanted sexual advances, illegal activity, or just being generally sketchy).

In that case, feel free to ghost and ghost liberally. For those who don’t know what “ghosting” is, it’s sudden and complete radio silence. You can go as far as blocking the other person on social media or from your phone, and that may be necessary depending on what he or she has done. Save this for all but the most serious situations – it will unquestionably end your relationship (professional or otherwise) and potentially sour any mutual contacts you have.

Be wary of ghosting too often, however – if done too much, you will appear to be flaky and unreliable (or possibly unstable), and people will be reluctant to work with you.


As Paul Simon once said, there are 50 ways to leave your lover, and that goes for co-writing relationships, too. These are just some of the most common and effective ways I’ve found. With any luck, though, you’ll never need to use them.

A Mini Finance Guide for Indie Musicians

[Editors Note: This blog article was written by Michelle Aguilar.]

 

Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi once said, “Music is spiritual. The music business is not.” Whether you’ve been in the industry for years or just starting out, there’s bound to be many bumps in the roads in terms of funding for your career as a musician and ultimately be able to make a living out of it. Hopefully this mini guide can spark new or more ideas to improve the financial facets of being an indie musician.

Set Automated Investments

Whenever you get a paycheck, use it to pay yourself first. Save it in an investment account and make sure to make this process automated. By doing this, you’re making it easier to keep up with your monthly savings. Surveys and research organizations such as Consolidated Credit suggest automated savings and it shouldn’t make you think twice as to why this is a smart idea.

According to President and CEO of Credit Financial Services Innovation, nearly half of Americans say their expenses are equal to or greater than their income and for those 18 to 25 years old, the percentage is over half, up to 54%. The key to keeping automatic investing affordable is to invest directly with a mutual fund company to avoid paying a trade commission each month. There are also some online brokers such as TD Ameritrade that offer hundreds of no-transaction-fee mutual funds in which you can automatically invest with no extra fees.

Put Your Money in a Smart Place

An IRA, or “individual retirement account” allows you huge tax savings on your investments. However, musicians, audio engineer and other creatives are recommended to set up a specific tax-free account called a Roth IRA. With this version, you put in after-tax dollars, and when you take the money out in the end, you don’t have to pay vany taxes on your returns. With ROA, you are set up to double your money every decade or so, just by keeping it in index funds.   Essentially, a Roth ROA provides the benefits of a tax-sheltered retirement account and the flexibility to deal with unexpected costs.

Pay Off Credit Card Debt

Other than contributing to your retirement account, make sure to prioritize paying off your credit card debt above all other financial goals. Whether you’ve had a credit card for a while or not, it’s helpful to build a realistic outlook on credit cards. You can use them for both small or major purchases—but the quicker you pay them off, the quicker you build your credit. If you want to use a credit card to buy music or recording gear you can’t immediately afford, well, you don’t.

Credit cards should be used if you earn a decent amount already to be able to pay them back. An alternative for this is to purchase an instrument/equipment using a loan payment plan. Some manufacturers have leasing programs, so do your research before even thinking about using a loan or your credit card.

Create a Reasonable Budget

When you crate a budget, it allows you to think about your budget less. There is freedom in budgeting. To get started, track your spending for two-three months. There’s a fast and easy way to do this by using digital tools such as mint.com. It’s free, secure and it serves to help you create and track budgets, investments and goals. Once you type in your bank or credit card accounts you can track your past and current spending to see exactly where you’re at financially. By viewing your current spending, you’ll be better able to figure out where most of your spending should be taking place.

Start with a realistic appraisal of what you have been spending on average by category. Then make a budget that reflects this spending but with a slight modification that gears you towards when you want and need to spend on the most. Focus on cutting the things you don’t care about too much and preserving what you spend on the things you do care about.

Find Ways to Earn More Money

In order to do the things we love and to create the things that other people value, we must be able to sustain ourselves. How do we do that? By making more money. Once you start developing a smart and sustainable budget, there will come a point where you realize that you can’t cut your spending any further. Try any of the following tips to not only make more money in a way that makes it easier for your audience.

1. Use Social Media as a Means to Pay

Venmo is a free mobile payment service owned by Paypal which can be used as an app. Create your username and announce before, during, and/or after your show that you accept tips in the form of Venmo. You can even put a tip jar at your merch table with a big sign, “If you liked the show, show us how much! $ or Venmo: ____.”

2. Sync Licensing

Many independent musicians are making six figures a year by getting placed on TV shows, commercials and films. By allowing someone else to use your music you’re reaching a new audience that you probably weren’t even aware of and of course, licensing your music is one of the major ways to make extra revenue.

A sync license gives someone permission to synchronize your music with a visual medium like TV shows, advertisements, movies or video games. When you grant someone a sync license, you aren’t giving up your rights to that song away. You’re basically renting the rights to them for a specific use. You are the primary owner of the copyright however, and you can even license it for a different movie or advertisement if you choose.

3. Session Work

A ‘session musician’ performs a backing track for another musician while onstage or recording in a studio. As a musician, this shouldn’t be work too difficult to find, given that most musicians can play more than one instrument as well.

Do you know any musicians who are getting ready to record and need an extra hand? Do you know anyone who works at a studio? Are there any labels operating in your area? Offer your skills and take on a new project. If not, put yourself out there, whether it’s on Craigslist, social media or other digital/non-digital platforms.


Financial literacy is vital for everyone, especially for entrepreneurs. As soon as you get paid for a gig of any sort, it’s important to be mindful of how you’re going to preserve, sustain and increase that income. Your journey as a musician doesn’t have to simulate the “starving artist” lifestyle. So get your financial thinking caps on!

New Store Alert: Boomplay Music

Here at TuneCore, we’re always on the move to offer independent artists with as many outlets by which to reach fans as possible. That’s why we’re excited to announce our partnership with Boomplay Music, a streaming and download platform serving music fans in pan-Africa and African diaspora markets.

Boomplay Music – an app developed by TECNO MOBILE LIMITED – aims to deliver the best African and International music while also “building a sustainable digital music ecosystem for African artists.” With seven million users and a growth rate of over 700,000 new users per month, the platform seems to be doing just that!

As a global digital music distributor, TuneCore allows artists in all territories to take advantage of the major growth in streaming and discovery occurring all over the world and well outside their markets. Just because you aren’t touring in African countries (…yet), you can still make your releases available for music fans there to enjoy. By distributing your upcoming or existing singles, EPs, and albums to Boomplay Music, you’re able to enjoy a wider potential reach in an ever-expanding market.

With the Boomplay Music app, music lovers can do the following:

  • Download music,
  • Subscribe for unlimited music,
  • Listen to their favorite songs,
  • Watch videos on the go,
  • Curate personal playlists,
  • Follow, engage and interact with fellow users,

Ready to get started getting your music available on Boomplay Music?

If you’re a TuneCore Artist with active releases and you’d like to send those to this new platform, head over to your Store Manager and select Boomplay Music today.

If you’re distributing your music using TuneCore for the first time, you’ll now be able to select Boomplay Music as a digital outlet and expand the global reach of your new release.

Learn more about the benefits of distributing your music to Boomplay Music here. For any questions about distributing your upcoming releases, get in touch with our Artist Suppot team.

How Open Mics Can Open Doors in Your Local Music Scene

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Mason Hoberg. Mason is a freelance writer who covers music-related topics and is a regular contributor to Equipboard.]

 

A hard truth of the world is that it’s never what you know. Rather, it’s almost always who you know. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, or how much time you’ve put into honing your writing or performing talents. If you can’t make valuable connections in your local music scene, odds are you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time in making any significant process in your career as a musician.

With that being said, there are a variety of different ways that you can open doors for yourself. This article is going to focus on open mics, and since this is the exclusive focus of the article we can get into the nitty gritty of how you can use them to help start your career as a musician.

1. Friends Talk To Friends Talk to Friends (Etc.)

If you’re looking for a talented musician, who are the first people you’re going to ask? Odds are, most of you are going to talk to friends who either are musicians or who are in contact with people in the local music scene.

Now believe it or not, the best way to take advantage of this, (aside from showing up and playing at least competently, obviously), is to always be professional and kind to those around you. Just about any band in the world would rather have a nice and dependable member than one who’s a jerk and causes the band problems.

Never talk down to your fellow performers, and for the love of God, don’t heckle. If you’re a musician who heckles your peers, get up right now and go look in a mirror. And then smash your face into it. The scars you gain from doing so will definitely add an element of mystique to your next performance. (Note: TuneCore is not liable for any heckler who smashes his/her face into a mirror. Even if it is kind of funny).

2. Networking With Other Musicians

While word of mouth is a powerful ally, it’s just as important to actually make connections with your fellow musicians. Imagine this scenario: You’re looking for a place to play gigs and you see a local gigging musician at an open mic night (which believe it or not, a lot of them do actually show up there to work on new songs or just to stay in practice with performing). You two get to talking and you mention that you’ve been having a hard time finding gigs, and then you ask if he/she would be able to recommend any venue owners who are pleasant to work with. Now you have a focused list of venue owners who host live music, and an idea of how it is to work with them. You can also ask about how the crowds were in different venues throughout town, giving you an idea as to which venues you should work on based on your genre.

While doing this once is helpful, doing it a dozen times is probably going to give you a pretty comprehensive list of the venues in the area, the type of music that works best in them, and how these venue owners treat their musicians. This is incredibly valuable information to have, because one of the most important parts of putting on a good show is finding a venue that works well for your music.

3. It Shows You What Type Of Music Is Best Received In The Area

Something many musicians don’t think about is how their audiences are going to react to the music they play, and not in regards to its quality. Rather, what is the demographic of listeners in your area like? Do they prefer metal? Soft acoustic music? Country? Folk? Do you have an idea of what these percentages are like?

While open mics are going to give you pretty skewed results due to the fact that most of the people who attend are likely to be more interested in acoustic music, odds are the overall reactions are still going to be at least somewhat representative. For example, if the crowd present likes Garth Brooks covers odds are that there will at least be some venues in town where country is well received.

Likewise, if the crowd loses their mind over a particularly inspired “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” cover for example, you can be pretty sure that there will be areas where Green Day will go over well.

4. You Get To Learn A Variety Of Approaches To Working A Crowd

Working a crowd is an art, and just like any other art there are a variety of different ways to approach it. Learning to time jokes well, figuring out how to introduce a song, and learning how to build a set-list are all fundamental skills for a musician.

While practice is important, so is being exposed to a variety of different approaches. You always want to be learning and trying new things, and there’s no better way to think up a new approach than to see what others are doing. Odds are they’ll do at least one thing that you never do that goes over well, and if they happen to be really bad at working a crowd, you get a few lessons in what not to do.

Wrapping It All Up

Being a musician requires a collection of several different skills, and open mics are a good place to hone them – aside from being an awesome place to make the connections that you’ll need to advance your career. They’re not always pretty, and the musicians who attend them may not always be the most pleasant to listen to, but there are a variety of things to learn and a huge population of musicians to network with.

Facebook’s New Reach Objective: A Game Changer for Touring Musicians

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Don Bartlett, owner of No Door Agency, an Austin, TX-based boutique management and marketing agency. Don also hosts a seminar titled “Facebook Marketing For Musicians. Be sure to read his TuneCore Blog article on maximizing your Facebook ads on an indie budget.]

From it’s earliest days Facebook has used its powerful data algorithms to deliver incredibly well-targeted ads. It was a dream for most advertisers. They wouldn’t just put your ad in front of your target audience, they’d put it in front of the specific members of that audience who were most likely to engage with the ad. The success of this approach changed the entire landscape of advertising, and advertisers reaped the benefits. For musicians trying to promote tour dates, though, this presented a problem.

Bands are in a relatively unique position, from an advertising perspective. In each tour city we have small but very valuable target group of people we want to reach. It’s critical that we reach ALL of that group, not just the ones who might be prone to engaging with Facebook posts. If we’ve got 500 fans in New York City, we want all 500 to see the ad for our show.

Until now, the best objectives were “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” which deliver to those people who historically took those actions when viewing ads. In many cases that left a decent chunk of your fans out.

In late 2016 Facebook rolled out a new objective that solves this problem. When you choose the “Reach” objective you are now functionally telling Facebook that you want to reach as many people in your target audience as possible. After a few months of testing we’ve found that ads with the Reach objective perform significantly better for these small but valuable targets.

Note that that when you’re advertising to larger, non-fan target audiences….fans of similar bands, for example…you’re still better off using the “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” objective.

Another significant advantage to the Reach objective is that for the first time Facebook is allowing you to put a limit on how often people see your ads. Even an ad for your favorite band’s show can get annoying if it’s popping up in your newsfeed 4 times a day. This new feature lets you define an amount of time that a user will not see your ad again after viewing it.

It’s a very helpful tool that provides an extra degree of control to what your fans are seeing from your page. A good rule of thumb is to build in a frequency cap of at least two days for most campaigns.

Taken together these two new features provide a huge improvement to the tour marketing arsenal. Facebook ads have always been a one of the most effective ways to reach fans in a given city, but the effectiveness was often limited by their optimization algorithms. With the “Reach” objective we now have a concrete way to reach all of them.

The Music Industry Belongs to the Hypercreators

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Ryan Kairalla, an entertainment lawyer based in Miami, FL. He recently published Break the Business: Declaring Your Independence and Achieving True Success in the Music Industry and also hosts the Break The Business Podcast.]

 

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.”
– Maya Angelou

A few weeks ago, I was giving a talk at the NAMM Conference in Anaheim, California. After it was over, a musician approached me and asked me what was the most important thing he should be doing to be more successful in his music career.

I succinctly responded: “Make music. Make lots of music. All the time.”

I could tell that this young creative was more than a little unsatisfied with my answer. Perhaps he thought I would give a lengthy discussion on the value of effective social media. Or maybe he was expecting that, as an attorney, I would talk to him about the importance of having good legal structures in place.

Granted, those things are important. But if you’re going to be in the business of making music, there is nothing more important than making as much music as you can. Today’s musicians need to be “hyper creators.”

Let’s lay down some essential truths about the current state of the industry:

  1. It has never been easier or cheaper to create quality music thanks to advancements in low-cost home recording hardware and software.
  2. It has never been easier or cheaper to distribute your music thanks to the digitalization of music and the emergence of low-cost distribution platforms.
  3. It has never been easier or cheaper to promote your music with the advent of social media.
  4. It has never been easier or cheaper to fund your music projects with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms.

Modern technology has removed nearly all of the barriers preventing artists from creating music constantly and sharing that music with a worldwide audience. Being able to make more music means that artists can have more opportunities to connect with their fans. It also means that artists can have a larger catalog of material to sell or license.

The musicians that will succeed in this world will be the ones who are best able to take advantage of these developments. This means creating lots of music—far more than the musicians of previous generations did.

The prevailing music creation model of recording and releasing an album’s worth of songs every two or three years is making less and less sense in the New Music Industry. It is a product of a bygone era where the creation, distribution, and promotion of music was an expensive endeavor, and thus bunching together the release of a small number of tracks was the way things had to be done.

Today, it is a better strategy to (1) make more music and (2) spread out the releases of your music throughout the year so that your fans never have a chance to forget about you. You can still make and release traditional albums if you so choose, but don’t do it at the expense of depriving your fans of a steady stream of new material.

Many musicians have effectively embraced the hypercreation model. Ireland-based indie acoustic artist J.P. Kallio has garnered some impressive success by releasing new original songs every week. Colorado-based Danielle Ate The Sandwich gained considerable fanfare for writing, recording, and producing an album’s worth of songs in just 24 hours (and she’s done this twice).

And then there’s New Jersey’s own Jonathan Mann. Mann has written and recorded a new original song every day for the past eight years—and counting. Mann and his catalog of nearly 3,000 songs have been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and HuffPost Live.

If hypercreation seems too daunting to you, remember this: Creativity is a muscle. The more you create, the more prolific you will become. Conversely, the less you create, the more that muscle atrophies. Make creation a constant in your music career, as each song you produce gives you one more opportunity for success.

A final word of warning:

As you embrace hypercreation in your own career, you should be wary of business relationships that are not conducive to you being prolific with your art. You cannot hypercreate unless you have complete authority over when, how, and with whom you make music. As a result, you should look upon exclusive recording agreements with great skepticism.

These contracts essentially give someone else (such as a record label or producer) full control over your recording projects. Under such a deal, you would not be able to make music without that someone’s permission, and they almost assuredly will not approve of you creating new music on a weekly basis. Rather, they will favor the old release model: Make an album, wait 2-3 years, and make another album (assuming that the label/producer still wants to record with you).

In the New Music Industry – one in which the creation, distribution, and promotion of music is so conducive to hypercreation — artists should give some serious thought to the significant value in being able to create on their own terms.